Gym Food launched from a FoodStars kitchen as a raw start-up in 2016. We have various kitchens to license around London. Founder George speaks to us about his experiences in becoming a popular choice for healthy conscious food delivery consumers.
Who are Gym Food and what do you do?
Gym Food is a dark kitchen brand providing healthy, calorie counted fitness orientated
food in East London.
Gym Food is a delivery-only food business – what are the pros and cons
• Not limited by typical physical constraints of a restaurant/shop setting.
• Able to focus purely on making food as deliverable as possible (packaging, transport etc).
• No costly premiums – no long leases.
• Low start up cost – no store fit outs etc.
• Much less expensive to run – no FOH staff needed. Also able to run very cheaply even in quiet periods.
• Money saved from typical restaurant costs can be directed into other avenues to drive sales.
• Much cheaper and easier to scale once model has been proven/established. 300k would barely open a delivery store for us, but could expand to 3-4 additional dark kitchen sites with same funds.
• Unless you’re a fine dining concept no cons.
You’ve been operating almost 2 years, how has your kitchen developed over this period?
Our first 6 months were spent in a part time kitchen trading between 4pm-11pm. Sales were very slow at first. Eventually sales grew enough where we didn’t have the space or time to prep sufficiently to support a days trading, so took a whole kitchen to ourselves. This meant we were able to put more time into prep and hire more staff to cope with demand. Also kitchen layout was now completely in our hands so was adjusted to be as efficient as possible for our operation. After another 6 months or so, further increases in demand leg us to take 2 kitchens and have the wall between them removed. This allowed us to add a lot more to our menu (previously didn’t have fridge or prep space to do this).
Process has been very gradual throughout and was by no means easy. Now looking to scale.
How do you think a FoodStars kitchen has helped your business develop as opposed to building and renting your own one?
With no experience in the food sector whatsoever, I’m sure attempting to build a kitchen/ restaurant would have been an absolute (and expensive) disaster! Foodstars allow easy and relatively inexpensive entry to market which was previously not possible.
Also, there is a tremendous amount to be gained and learnt from neighbouring tenants. As well as delivery units, there are central production kitchens, caterers etc which can be of great benefit when setting up a supply chain etc.
You’ve become very popular over time. What are the key factors that drive sales and repeat customers online?
No anywhere near popular enough yet!
Quality and consistency are key, as well as having a good understanding of the metrics systems of the intermediaries. I think the days of people paying very little for poor quality delivered food are over. We provide freshly made, fantastic, flavourful and healthy food at a very reasonable price, delivered fast which is why we are in demand.
Like all food businesses you must have had your fair share of ups and downs – would you mind taking us through some of the challenges so far?
Running out of capital at the early stages and not having anywhere to live was a bit of a downer! Growing a business tactically and strategically is the fun part, the most difficult side of things is of a psychological nature – unfathomable amounts of stress, worry, fear etc. But this is the life I chose so shouldn’t complain too much! I would say fear is my biggest driving force so there are certainly a lot of positives to be drawn from all those emotional experiences. Chances are, if you’re a start up and you’re not petrified of going bankrupt and losing everything, you’ve already failed.
Do you see food delivery and the digital food market growing as far as both consumers and restaurants are concerned?
I think the death of high restaurants has already begun – in the next 30 years the decline will be sharp and brutal. Today’s society is obsessed with saving time – thats why we want Ubers to get us places quickly and meals delivered to our door fast. We want great food every day without having to cook it ourselves (even if we could).